Minestrone

I love Minestrone soup because while it’s a vegetable soup/stew, it’s quite hearty and delicious. Growing up, I used to have it almost every Sunday with the family at one of my dad’s restaurant called Almon Marina. I didn’t realize what layers of flavor there are in it, I just knew it was a delicious, tomato soup with a ton of vegetables. I’ve dissected what’s in it and will be sharing with you what I have learned through the years.

I served Minestrone along with some Potato Gnocchi. Might have been bit heavy haha, but both are delicious

Secret Layer 1 – Cheese

If you are a fan of Minestrone, this might be something that you already know. Or if you like Italian food, you probably assumed that there’s cheese in this soup anyways. An interesting common factor though in traditional Minestrone is adding some rind of the parmesan or parmigiana regiano into the soup. It makes the flavor of the parmesan cheese seep throughout the entire soup. If you’re vegan, you can substitute with grated vegan parmesan.

Secret Layer 2 – Pancetta, Guanciale, or Bacon

The fattier the better—this soup sneaks some meat in! One of the usual applications of this dish is to render fat from bits of bacon, pancetta, or guanciale. You can skip this if you are vegetarian or vegan, and perhaps add a bit more extra virgin olive oil instead.

Now that I’ve shared some secret layers of the dish–read ahead and learn how to make the rest! Enjoy!

Minestrone

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, chopped into 2 cm cubes (if your zucchini is large, remove the seeds)
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, chopped into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 cup of pumpkin or squash, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1 small rib of celery, chopped thinly
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped finely
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup of pancetta, guanciale, or bacon diced into small pieces
  • 50 grams rind from parmigiana Reggiano/parmesan cheese and/or ¼ cup of grated parmesan
  • 1 can of tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 can of cannellini beans (I left this out because it wasn’t available at the time), with the liquid drained.
  • 250 grams of any pasta (you can even use broken pieces of pasta)
  • 1 cup of chopped spinach leaves or kale
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cups of water or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a pot, place the pancetta/guanciale/bacon and render the fat until the meat bits are lightly toasted.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and add the onions. When the onions are slightly translucent add the garlic, dried oregano, and dried thyme.
  3. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the celery and carrots and cook under medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the pumpkin/squash and zucchini and saute for 3 more minutes.
  5. Add the canned tomatoes, bay leaves, parmesan rind/parmesan cheese, and vegetable stock/water and season with salt and pepper. Raise the temperature of the stove to medium-high heat and bring the soup to a boil.
  6. Once it boils, let it simmer in medium heat for 15 minutes.
  7. Add the pasta and beans and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.
  8. Turn off the heat and add the spinach leaves and cover until you’re ready to serve.
  9. Serve with parmesan cheese on top (optional).

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